Reading and Leeds among more than 100 UK festivals committed to tackling sexual violence

Boomtown Fair, Boardmasters and Reading and Leeds are among more than 100 UK festivals which have committed to tackling sexual violence.

A total of 103 UK festivals have committed to the The Association of Independent Festivals’ (AIF) Safer Spaces At Festivals campaign, which has relaunched to address the issue of sexual violence in 2022 and into the future.

Parklife, El Dorado, Kendal Calling, Latitude and Shambala have also committed to the initiative, which originally launched in 2017.

With input and guidance from charities including Rape Crisis England And Wales, Good Night Out and Safe Gigs For Women, the festivals have committed to delivering a safe environment for audiences, performers, and workforces.

The festivals will take a survivor-led approach underpinned by policies, procedures, and training and commit to an updated charter of best practice, which states that all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated.

The charter is supplemented by a commitment to clear, robust reporting and disclosure procedures, including how to report incidents onsite and after the event.

The policies of the participating festivals will also include relevant health guidance and connections to local services.

AIF membership and operations coordinator Phoebe Rodwell said: “The original Safer Spaces campaign has had a positive impact across festivals for music fans and festival staff alike.

“Festivals are microcosms of society and sexual violence is a problem that persists in our society. Our understanding and approaches to tackling the issue are evolving all the time.

“That’s why it’s important that we renew the Safer Spaces campaign in 2022 with up-to-date messaging, resources and practices, to prevent sexual violence and promote a survivor-led approach, helping festival organisers to fulfil their duty of care at events.”

The participating festivals will actively promote the principle of consent regarding sexual activity onsite at events, defining consent as “someone engaging in sexual activity if they agree by choice, and they have the freedom and capacity to make that choice” and reiterating that consent can be revoked at any time.

Key messaging will also be shared on the social media platforms of participating festivals and onsite at festivals this summer.

Media and communications officer at Rape Crisis England and Wales Kelly Bennaton said: “We’re encouraged to see the commitment and consideration from festival organisers in making their events safe places for women and girls.

“The AIF Safer Spaces Charter acknowledges the importance of dedicated training, awareness raising, and the provision of specialist support services for survivors.

“Festival goers deserve to know that if they report sexual assault they will be listened to and believed, and that those working on site are equipped to handle all reports with knowledge and empathy.

“They also deserve to know that festivals are taking a proactive approach in preventing sexual assault, and that abusive behaviour will not be tolerated.”

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